This year’s Breeders’ Cup may be a memory, but no fewer than five horses that competed in the 2011 World Championships are back at Churchill Downs for the $500,000 Clark Handicap (gr. I) Nov. 25.
Ruler On Ice, Flat Out , and Headache—third, fifth, and 12th, respectively, in the Nov. 5 Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I)—are entered in the Clark, as is Stately Victor, who split a nine-horse field in the Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Turf (gr. IT), and Pleasant Prince, fourth in the grade II Breeders' Cup Marathon. Also entered in the Clark is Prayer for Relief, who was scratched from the Classic the day he was supposed to ship from California.
The Clark is the 11th race on a 12-race program that begins at 12:40 p.m. EST.
Preston Stable’s Flat Out, the 123-pound highweight, drew post 6 in the 13-horse field, which should be more to the liking of trainer Charles “Scooter” Dickey. Flat Out trains very well on the Churchill dirt surface but hasn’t hit the board in three local starts.
“It wouldn’t exactly make me mad if we drew further outside,” Dickey said a few days before the Nov. 22 draw. “We’ve been inside both times he has gotten beat here this year.”
Flat Out, who worked a half-mile in :48 at Churchill Nov. 19, was within striking distance in the Classic after starting from post 2 but didn’t fire in the stretch. He ran similarly in June in the Stephen Foster Handicap (gr. I) from the rail.
Alex Solis is back aboard Flat Out, who was favored in the Classic off a victory in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I) at Belmont Park. The 5-year-old Kentucky-bred by Flatter also won the grade II Suburban Handicap at Belmont this year.
George and Lori Hall’s Ruler On Ice, a 3-year-old Kentucky-bred by Roman Ruler, tackled older foes for the first time in the Classic and fared very well with a strong rally in the lane. He now has a race under his belt at Churchill but drew post 1 in the Clark, not necessarily advantageous in the 1 1/8-mile race.
Garrett Gomez gets a return call on Ruler On Ice at 118 pounds. Kelly Breen trains.
The Clark field as usual is deep enough that horses that didn’t compete in the Breeders’ Cup figure to get plenty of attention, including Morton Fink’s Wise Dan, winner of the Fayette Stakes (gr. II) on Polytrack at Keeneland in his first try at 1 1/8 miles. The 4-year-old Kentucky-bred gelding by Wiseman's Ferry rated nicely just off the leaders before taking over and winning by four lengths in good time.
Charles Lopresti trains Wise Dan, who has won on the dirt and turf at Churchill. Wise Dan drew post 11 with John Velazquez and will carry 120 pounds. Julien Leparoux, one of Wise Dan’s regular riders, has mounts at Hollywood Park that afternoon.
After a few days of steady to heavy rain in Louisville, Ky., the Friday forecast calls for sunshine and a high of 65 degrees after an equally pleasant Thanksgiving Day.
$500,000 Clark Handicap (gr. I), Race 11, 5:52 p.m. EST) 3 & Up, 1 1/8 Miles
PP., Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1 Ruler On Ice (KY) G K Gomez 118 K J Breen
2 Alma d'Oro (KY) J L Castanon 115 T A Pletcher
3 Demarcation (KY) C J Lanerie 114 P J McGee
4 Stately Victor (KY) V Lebron 115 M J Maker
5 Mission Impazible (KY) J Castellano 116 T A Pletcher
6 Flat Out (FL) A O Solis 123 C L Dickey
7 Pleasant Prince (FL) J A Garcia 114 W A Ward
8 Headache (KY) E S Prado 115 M J Maker
9 Mister Marti Gras (KY) R Maragh 117 C M Block
10 Will's Wildcat (KY) C H Borel 112 J E Baker
11 Wise Dan (KY) J R Velazquez 120 C Lopresti
12 Prayer for Relief (KY) R Bejarano 117 B Baffert
13 General Quarters (KY) J K Court 116 T R McCarthy